The mission statement of a quality peer support program for teens and young adults should include peer leadership. Members of the program should be in leadership roles. This leadership should include, but not be limited to: coordinating outreach to new and continuing members; developing program materials; outlining expectations for the program; and presenting to outside constituencies.
Advocacy Opportunities and Responsibilities
It should be among the roles of a peer support program to educate systems, professionals, and families. The can be done through venues from simple family meetings, community networking and even speaking at national conferences about experiences of what helps and what harms. Participation in such advocacy roles should not be expected of all members, but should be offered and available for those who want to take those opportunities. In such a way, every member of the program can feel a part of a movement that is pushing for understanding and changes system wide.
A peer support program for teens and young adults should allow for open membership. While the program should attempt to outreach to members to maintain connectedness, the members should be free to attend (or not attend) as they see fit. Attendance requirements go against the general principle of a program acting as a movement for empowerment. Open membership also includes the concepts of mutual respect and acceptance. A peer support group should demonstrate, generally through its mission statement, a philosophy of respect between peers and acceptance of others and their differences. This mutual support and acceptance will help further the support groupís efforts to work as a team to support each other through challenging times. Ultimately, this comes down to young people connecting respectfully with peers who understand them and can bond with them.
Any peer support program should, simply put, offer the chance to make friends. These opportunities could come in the form of rap sessions, recreation trips, open group discussions, themed educational sessions, or any other media that allows for social opportunities and good times. At its best, a peer support program should offer a wide variety of such opportunities in order to meet the varying needs and interests of a diverse membership.